US 7701767 B2
A semiconductor device with multiple strap-contact configurations for a memory cell array. An array with memory cells interconnected with bit-lines, control-gate lines, erase gate lines, common-source lines, and word-lines is provided. In one aspect of an illustrative embodiment, a strap-contact corridor is spaced at n bit-line intervals (n>1) across the array. The strap-contact corridor comprises strap-contact cells, which provide electrical interconnection between control-gate lines, erase gate lines, common-source lines, and word-lines and their respective straps.
1. A semiconductor device comprising:
a plurality of memory cells arranged in an array;
a plurality of bit-lines, each bit-line forming a column in the array;
a plurality of control-gate lines, each control-gate line forming a control-gate sub-row in the array;
a plurality of erase gate lines, each erase gate line forming an erase gate sub-row in the array;
a plurality of common-source lines, each common-source line forming a common-source sub-row in the array;
a plurality of word-lines, each word-line forming a word-line row in the array;
a plurality of straps, each strap electrically coupled to at least one of the control-gate line, the erase gate line, the common-source line and the word-line, wherein each strap is electrically coupled through a strap-contact in a strap-contact cell to each of the control-gate line, the erase gate line, the common-source line, and the word-line;
a first memory cell electrically connected to a first bit-line, a first control-gate line, a shared erase gate line, a shared common-source line, and a first word-line;
a second memory cell electrically connected to the first bit-line, a second control-gate line, the shared erase gate line, the shared common-source line and a second word-line, wherein the first memory cell and the second memory cell form a unit set;
a plurality of strap-contact cells, wherein each strap-contact cell has substantially a same length as the unit set and has a width from about one to three times a width of the unit set; and
a plurality of strap-contact corridors, each strap-contact corridor forming a sub-column in the array, wherein each strap-contact corridor comprises at least one strap-contact cell, and wherein a width of each strap-contact corridor is substantially the width of each strap-contact cell.
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a plurality of control-gate strap-contacts with j bit-lines between each of the plurality of control-gate strap-contacts in the control-gate sub-row;
a plurality of erase gate strap-contacts with k bit-lines between each of the plurality of erase gate strap-contacts in the erase gate sub-row;
a plurality of common-source strap-contacts with m bit-lines between each of the plurality of common-source strap-contacts in the common-source sub-row; and
a plurality of word-line strap-contacts with p bit-lines between each of the plurality of word-line strap-contacts in the word-line row.
12. The semiconductor device of
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16. The semiconductor device of
one control-gate strap-contact for b bit-lines in the control-gate sub-row, wherein b is equal to a number of bit lines in the array.
The present invention relates generally to semiconductor devices, and more particularly to strap-contact configurations for a memory cell array.
Wide varieties of semiconductor memory devices have been developed. These semiconductor memory devices are continuously employed in new and expanded uses, which require an integrated circuit of increased capabilities and decreased cost. Accordingly, there exists a continuing demand for inexpensive semiconductor devices having increased memory and reduced chip size. Many semiconductor devices are comprised of multiple types of circuits such as memory and logic circuits. Flash memory cells are typically formed, along with other circuits (non-memory circuits) such as core circuits, as embedded flash memory. Flash memory cells may be included in system on a chip (SOC) devices.
Flash memory has become increasingly popular in recent years. A typical flash memory comprises a memory array having a large number of memory cells arranged in blocks. Each of the flash memory cells is fabricated as a field-effect transistor having a control-gate and a floating-gate. The floating-gate is capable of holding charges and is separated from source and drain regions contained in a substrate by a layer of thin oxide. The memory cells may be capable of several operations including program, read, write, and erase. For example, memory cells may be electrically charged by injecting electrons from the drain region through the oxide layer onto the floating-gate. The charges may be removed from the floating-gate, in one known approach, by tunneling the electrons to the source through the oxide layer during an erase operation. The data in a memory cell is thus determined by the presence or absence of a charge on the floating-gate.
Amorphous polysilicon (poly) lines or buried lines (for example patterned doped silicon) may be used to interconnect components of the memory cells together in an array. A contact is provided between the poly or buried line and the interconnect structure (typically metal). As arrays become larger, there may be a voltage drop along poly or buried lines. The voltage drop may be detrimental to the function and speed of the array. One method of overcoming this problem may be to use metal lines rather than poly or buried lines to interconnect components of the memory cells. However, a larger memory cell may then be required to accommodate the space needed to connect contacts to each memory cell component.
These and other problems are generally solved or circumvented, and technical advantages are generally achieved by a strap-contact configuration for a memory cell array.
A semiconductor device is presented including a plurality of memory cells arranged in an array. The array includes a plurality of bit-lines, each bit-line forming a column in the array, a plurality of control-gate lines, each control-gate line forming a control-gate sub-row in the array, a plurality of erase gate lines, each erase gate line forming an erase gate sub-row in the array, a plurality of common-source lines, each common-source line forming a common-source sub-row in the array, and a plurality of word-lines, each word-line forming a row in the array.
Further, the array includes a plurality of straps, each strap electrically coupled to one or more of a control-gate line, an erase gate line, a common-source line and a word-line. Moreover, each strap is electrically coupled through a strap-contact in a strap-contact cell to the one or more of the control-gate line, the erase gate line, the common-source line, or the word-line.
A first memory cell is electrically connected to a first bit-line, a first control-gate line, a shared erase gate line, a shared common-source line, and a first word-line. A second memory cell is electrically connected to a first bit-line, a second control-gate line, the shared erase gate line, the shared common-source line, and a second word-line. The first memory cell and the second memory cell form a unit set. A plurality of strap-contact cells is provided, wherein a strap-contact cell is substantially a same length as the unit set and from about one to three times a width of the unit set.
An advantage of an illustrative embodiment is providing a strap-shunting configuration with efficient masking steps without adding complicated process steps.
The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the features and technical advantages of an illustrative embodiment in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood. Additional features and advantages of an illustrative embodiment will be described hereinafter, which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures or processes for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the illustrative embodiments as set forth in the appended claims.
For a more complete understanding of the illustrative embodiments, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
Corresponding numerals and symbols in the different figures generally refer to corresponding parts unless otherwise indicated. The figures are drawn to clearly illustrate the relevant aspects of the preferred embodiments and are not necessarily drawn to scale.
A semiconductor device of the presently preferred embodiments is discussed in detail below. It should be appreciated, however, that an illustrative embodiment provides many applicable inventive concepts that can be embodied in a wide variety of specific contexts. The specific embodiments discussed are merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention, and do not limit the scope of the invention.
The present invention will be described with respect to illustrative embodiments in a specific context, namely, a split gate flash memory array. The invention may also be applied, however, to other flash memory arrays and to other semiconductor devices comprising arrays.
Turning now to
In an illustrative embodiment, strap-contact corridors 108 are provided parallel to BL columns 102. Strap-contact corridors 108 are columns within array 100 that provide strap-contacts for straps. Straps (not shown) are conductive lines that serve as shunts for poly lines or buried layer lines. A metal line, for example, may have a much lower voltage drop along the length of the line than does a poly or buried line. Therefore, an advantage to shunting poly lines with metal or other conductive lines may be that a more consistent voltage is provided to each memory cell. However, the addition of straps may add significantly to the area of the array, because strap-contacts may require array area. Therefore, in an illustrative embodiment, strap-contacts to each memory cell are not provided. Rather, a poly or buried line may be provided with a strap-contact periodically across the array. Thus, an illustrative embodiment may have the advantages of the consistent voltages of a metal line, while each memory cell need not be expanded to accommodate the extra space needed for each memory cell node strap-contact. Further, a different number of strap-contacts may be provided for different memory cell lines, allowing for flexibility when designing a memory array in accordance with an illustrative embodiment. For example, a control-gate line may be provided a strap-contact every 128 bits, whereas a common-source line may be provided a strap-contact every 32 bits.
Strap-contact corridor 108 may comprise control-gate (CG) contacts, which contact CG lines, common-source (CS) contacts, which contact CS lines, erase gate (EG) contacts, which contact EG lines, and word-line (WL) contacts, which contact WLs. Strap-contacts are comprised of conductive materials such as W, polysilicon, metals, metal alloys, other conductive materials, or the like. A preferred contact material may be tungsten, for example. Typically, strap-contacts are formed by patterning and etching material in layers between the conductive lines to be interconnected, thus a contact hole is provided for a conducting contact material. The landing for a strap-contact on poly or silicon is typically sized large enough to allow for some process variation. The landing size for a contact may vary depending on such factors as the number and types of materials in the intervening layers that must be etched. Strap-contact landings may significantly increase the size of the array. However, if too few contacts are provided to the straps, the poly and buried lines may be too resistive and the array may not be optimized. Throughout the description, the term “unit set” is used to refer to two memory cells sharing a common-source.
It may be noted that erase gate EG 209 is over common-source CS 208. Therefore, according to an illustrative embodiment, a strap-contact to an erase gate and a common-source may not occur in the same strap-contact unit set.
In an illustrative embodiment, control-gates CG1 206 and CG2 207 are disconnected from each other, and thus may be connected to different voltages. As an example, during a program operation of memory cell 210, a voltage may be applied between bit-line node BL1 254 and common-source CS 208, with, for example, a bit-line voltage of about 0.4V and a common-source voltage of about 4V, for example. Word-line WL1 204 may have a voltage applied, of about 1.5V, for example, in order to turn on a channel in semiconductor substrate 230. Therefore, a current flows between common-source CS 208 and bit-line node BL1 254. A high control-gate voltage, about 10V, for example, may be applied on control-gate CG1 206, and thus electrons are programmed into floating-gate FG1 252 under the influence of a high electrical field. At the time memory cell 220 may be programmed, control-gate CG2 207 of memory cell 220 may be connected to a low voltage, for example, about 0V.
Mono strap-contact cells are those strap-contact cells which employ one type of strap-contact, such as CG (that is both CG1 and CG2), CS, WL (that is both WL1 and WL2), and EG. Different mono strap-contact cells may be different sizes depending on what type of mono strap-contact it employs.
In an embodiment, a multi strap-contact cell may employ more than one type of strap-contact, within a unit set, such as unit set 200 in
In another embodiment, the CG poly may be expanded to over the WL poly (with an isolation layer in between the two layers). In either example case, the WL poly may not have a strap-contact within the same unit set. While CG1 565 and CG2 566 are in the multi strap-contact cell with CS strap-contact 562, the metal connections (not shown) to these contacts are not shorted together. The contacts are coupled to different metal layers formed in the subsequent processing of the semiconductor device (not shown).
The scope of the present application is not intended to be limited to the particular embodiments of the process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, means, methods and steps described in the specification. As one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate from the disclosure of the present invention, processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps, presently existing or later to be developed, that perform substantially the same function or achieve substantially the same result as the corresponding embodiments described herein may be utilized according to the present invention. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to include within their scope such processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps.